Support PCS workers strike against cuts

PCS members are on strike today against savage cuts being made by the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition on essential services PCS members provide to the public. Today’s strike is also against the broader cuts and austerity being inflicted on ordinary people by the British government and the Northern Ireland Assembly Executive.

Today’s budget will see more attacks on public services, workers and communities. Even though austerity is leading to a triple-dip recession, rising unemployment and enormous hardship for ordinary people, the governments in London and Stormont are determined to continue this disastrous policy.

PCS members are suffering job cuts, pay freezes, attacks on terms & conditions and trade union facilities, all of this to prepare the way for the mass privatisation of the civil service. Similar attacks are happening to workers across both the public and private sector.
In order to defeat the austerity agenda, all the unions need to co-ordinate united strike action, including preparing a one-day general strike. Trade union members need to come together and organise how to build pressure to force the trade union leaders to act.

For a new, mass working class party
We also need a political alternative to the sectarian parties wielding the axe to public services. The trade union movement unites hundreds of thousands of workers, Catholic and Protestant. This needs a political expression – a new mass party, based on the trade unions, young people and genuine community groups, which stands up for ordinary people and against the sectarian and right-wing policies of the main parties.

A message from PCS President & Socialist Party member JOHN McINALLY (personal capacity)

PCS members are prepared to struggle and the government is wrong if it thinks it can attack us without determined resistance. There will be a one-day strike on 20 March and a further half day strike on 5 April which marks the end of the 2012/13 tax year, this walkout will begin a week of tax justice campaigning highlighting the £120 billion tax gap.

Added impetus for the dispute will come from the announcement that all 281 tax enquiry offices in the country could close under new plans by the government, including 13 to be closed this year in the North of England. Also, from 1 April, PCS members will have extra pension contributions imposed on them, while from the same date millionaires are being given a tax cut.

On 20 March there will be rallies in cities up and down the country, where there will be speakers from other trade unions and campaign groups like Disabled People Against the Cuts and Black Triangle. We want to make sure people know that yes, it’s a strike against the attacks on our terms and conditions, our pay etc but it is also a strike against austerity and the failed programme of the government.

PCS particularly welcomes other unions’ involvement. For example we welcome the strike of Unite and PCS members in the Homes and Communities Agency who have coordinated their strike for budget day.

As our general secretary Mark Serwotka told the pre-budget TUC rally: “We hope our strike action is successful but we’re quite clear, our union is right to take action but we all know if more of us take action together we have a better chance of winning… On 26 June George Osborne will do another significant thing. He will announce his comprehensive spending review which will confirm the butchery of public spending for the next three years. What a brilliant day that would be – that while he announces cuts in parliament to see as many people as we can taking industrial action together, demonstrating together and protesting together. If we build that movement then we can turn our aspirations into reality.”

Starting off as a one-day strike and an overtime ban from 21 March, the union’s national disputes committee will meet weekly. We will be calling further action at short notice.
We will implement work to rules throughout government departments. We will keep up the pressure on the employer until they are prepared to talk to us. We will also be making sure that government ministers and senior managers get a warm PCS reception when they come to visit civil service
offices. For example on 13 March at a Ministry of Justice building in London, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude couldn’t go through the front door. He was driven in his Jag with the blacked-out windows around the back because there were 40 PCS members demonstrating outside. He’s going to have to get used to that because we’re going to keep it up until he talks to us.

The union’s departmental groups are looking at what action to call as well. There will be days of action with themes like equality, welfare, taxation and so on.
We’re determined to keep the pressure up until the government is prepared to talk to us. Over the course of the past six months we’ve managed to win concessions in disputes within departmental groups.
The slogan: “Campaigning works, action gets results” is true. We’ll be making sure that we build the action until they’re prepared to talk to us.

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